January 20th, 2017

Dobro jutro !! (“Good Morning to you all ” in Bosnian to you!)

I wish to thank everyone who helped out with the Go-Fund-Me deal for Steven. People were even more generous after he passed. It will all help given that being such a young man, he didn’t have life insurance but he did have a wife and two girls who won’t have daddy’s help from now on. So thank you all.

The Republicans are ramping up to repeal Obama Care or the poorly named, “Affordable Care Act”. They do not have any solution to replace it but,”By God..they are going to repeal it!”. I say it was poorly named program because only a moron would seriously think that getting health care in place for all Americans, the fastest growing expense in our lifetimes, was not going to be initially more expensive why they worked out the kinks. Especially, when you consider all of the additional benefits it afforded for all of us (eliminating preexisting condition exemptions, extending coverage for kids in college to 25, etc.) and extending coverage to about 12million more sick people that insurance companies never had to cover before. So it isn’t perfect. It isn’t free or easy to afford 3 years into it. Work it, replace with a single-payer system but do not use this important quality of life function as a political brownie point. Real people will be really hurt.

Frankly, I think we should be ashamed of ourselves! When the Berlin Wall fell and Germany found the Eastern half of their country that had been pretty much raped and pillaged by the USSR for 40 years. Over 100,000 East Germans were out of work and the infrastructure was in such poor repair industry could not be sustained. The German people took on the task of updating the living conditions and infrastructure in the east. They agreed to an average 30.5% total flat income tax (including an income and corporate tax surcharge). The German people have been giving up almost a third of their income and endured to price consequences in goods and services to fund help the east come to par in terms of infrastructure, productivity and living conditions. When I lived in Germany, no one complained. Not once did I hear any West German complain about this fiscal burden. It was needed and the right thing to do. I remember when we used to be like that.

Please take action! Tell your congressional representative to vote against any repeal without an alternative that makes sense. End of soap box.

This week I learned some stuff:
• Did you know that if your family (2 adults and 2 children) can share a single Amazon Prime account? I found that out this week and used Jessica’s account to ship some stuff and watch, “Justified” (Timothy Oliphant and a wonderful ensemble) using an app on my iPhone to play it on my Apple TV. Very cool.

Website Update
• 2nd week for the Vocabulary Quiz!!
• I added a quote this week. “Getting old is not for the faint of heart.” was a pearl of wisdom left for us by Lady Bird Johnson.
• I added a new feature to the UJT site. Each week one of the song’s sampled on the UJT Update will have its lyrics published in the forum. If you open two instances of the site as tabs, you can read (and sing along if you liked) the lyrics in this forum in one whole the song is playing in the other window. You can capture your thoughts or comments as replies to any of the songs featured. Anyway, I am hoping we might have some fun with this.

Writing and Painting Update:
• Getting estimates for the Fine Line Editing for Grandpa Stories this week. Registered to restart my writing workshops Feb 1st and Watercolor classes Feb 3rd. No painting this week.

• Periodically, I have been known to write a letter to folks. Yes, I still will write a real honest-to-God-put-a-stamp-on-it letter that you mail. For me it is a gift of love. I have special stationary that I use. I have some nice Montblanc pen’s left over from the old days. This time I decided to write a letter to my little brother Pat. Growing up together as the progeny of a single mother and absent father way before it became popular, Pat and I had this rough and tumble relationship. We might draw blood fighting in the morning and be best fishing buddies by afternoon. When we got to be young men, we became closer and helped each other. Then as we started to grow into the family men we were to become, we kind of drifted apart some. No angry words or events, just going different directions with different interests but separate none the less. Well, this week I sat down to write this silly but personal letter as a gesture towards taking time out for each other again. I think it is weird truth, that you can say the things that need saying in a letter that is mostly about nothing but it doesn’t work as well in an email. We all need to say what needs saying to live without regrets.

Music Update:
This week on UJT Radio we have a new feature for you!!! Each week in addition to the songs selected for your listening pleasure, we will also include the lyrics to one of the song, in case you want to sing along. This week selection is Bob Seger’s poignant tribute to Glenn Frey called, “Glen Song”. Here are your sample selections for this week:
• Beatles – Blackbird – A deep cut from their 1968 release of “The White Album”. As you know, recently I reconnected with my old friend George Gomez. One of my fondest memories growing up was coming over to hear the new Beatles record again at George’s house on like a Sunday morning or something. George was home alone in his room with door closed because his Mom’s parrot making all kinds of racket. It seemed like it took a while to get a loud knock timed just right to let him know I was there. We had listened the record together almost all day the day before and were completely blown away. The Beatles were like a new band with each record they released. Anyway, when I got in, George was just finishing teaching himself this song. Not for the first time, I was blown away by my friend when I sat down and played and sang it for me perfectly.
• Doobie Brothers – What a Fool Believes – Michael MacDonal teamed up with Kenny Loggins to create this incredible song. It is a wonderful tribute to men everywhere and our incredible ability to self-deceive when loose our hearts in but a glance across a room.
• John Denver – Fire and Rain – Very few people truly appreciate the magic guitar work that John could and would do on both his big six string blonde and his twelve string Guild guitars. I have featured some of his beautiful acoustic playing from the “Rocky Mountain High” . James Taylor is also a pretty amazing guitar player but John’s version of James’ first big hit, is not to be missed. This was released on his 1971 “Poems, Prayers and Promises” album. It is just beautiful. Close your eyes and visit this old friend for a moment.
• England Dan Seals & John Ford Coley – Love is the Answer— This is nice jazzy sweet cover of Todd Rungren’s amazing song with some very sweet horn rifts and great harmonies. Its almost new age gospel.
• Waylon and Willie – Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys – The boys covered Ed Bruce’s song and made it famous. I saw Willie do it once and he didn’t even notice when he fucked up the lyrics in the last chorus when he sang, “Mommas don’t let your cowboys grow up to be babies”.. Everybody was smiling.
• Jefferson Starship – Miracles – From their Red Octopus album. My friend Steve W from Norfolk turned me on to this album and song when I was passing thru Norfolk on yet another doomed attempt to “go back home” after being in the Navy.
• Bob Seger — Glenn Song – Bob and Glenn Frey came up together out of the Detroit area in the 1960s. Bob mentored the younger musician. Glenn played acoustic guitar on Bob’s huge hit, “Ramblin’ Gambling Man. This is Bob’s sweet goodbye to his friend of 50 years. For me, with the loss of Steven Torregrossa, this song just says how I am feeling now. Bob published it as a free download.
• Paul Simon – Something So Right – This man has always amazed me. In my estimation he has written some of the most beautiful songs ever and at the same time some of the dumbest (Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard). But I am moved by all of them somehow. This one is a sweet tune from his 1971 release, “ There Goes Rhymin’ Simon” that I hope you will enjoy.

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get; And always remember … The best is yet to come! 

As always, thank you for being my friend! 

Under the Jacaranda Tree URL: http://www.jfmccann.com